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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Undefeated Badgers ready for nonconference matchup with Dartmouth

The No. 1 ranked and undefeated Wisconsin Badgers (10-0-0 WCHA, 14-0-0 overall) return to action Black Friday at 7 p.m. for the first of two matchups this weekend against nonconference opponent Dartmouth (4-1-2 Ivy League, 4-2-2 overall).

The two squads haven’t faced off since 2009, when the Badgers ran the table, winning 7-0 in the national quarterfinals on their way to winning a national title.

Though it is a nonconference series, UW head coach Mark Johnson isn’t brushing off the matchup or looking ahead.

“We haven't played Dartmouth in a few years, but they're certainly a very strong opponent, and it will be an important weekend for us.” Johnson said. “The big thing about nonconference games is that if you're successful in it, when you get to the end and the NCAA starts putting, you know, the power rankings and information together.”

This season the Badgers have shown their ability to dominate opponents, outshooting their opponents 3:1 and outscoring opponents at an even more astounding 14:1. They have reached such staggering figures with impressive speed, crisp passing and overall puck control.

“If you watch us play, our ability to puck possess has been pretty good up to this point, and when you have skilled players and you have the puck, that's really a good thing in our game,” Johnson said.

Though the Big Green doesn’t come in with the same national attention as the Wisconsin hockey program, they have been having a quietly successful run, achieving a No. 10 national ranking earlier this season. Dartmouth began its 2015-16 campaign by handing No. 8 Harvard its only loss so far this season by a score of 2-1. The Big Green have found the majority of their production from a group of three upper classmen. Senior forwards Lindsey Allen and Laura Stacy, along with junior forward Kennedy Ottenbreit, have combined for 25 of Dartmouth’s 52 points.

That being said, the Badgers will still more than likely be a handful for the Big Green. They have found success with a multitude of lines, scorers and goaltenders. The Badgers have shown themselves to be dangerous at all times, scoring 14 times on the power play while only allowing a single goal in 94 minutes of penalty kill. Not to mention, the Badgers have scored six shorthanded goals during the same 94 minutes, thus outscoring their opponents 6-1 on their own penalty kill.

In seasons such as the one the Badgers are currently experiencing, with the statistics as astonishing as they are, it can be hard for teams and players to maintain the focus and the execution that got them there in the first place. Johnson is making sure his team is focused on Dartmouth despite the looming matchup against their perennial nemesis Minnesota.

“Do we got to beat Minnesota? I thought we were playing Dartmouth Friday?” Johnson responded when asked about the upcoming matchup with the No. 3 Gophers. “If you come into coaches' shoes, yeah, you look at the schedule and you find games that you might circle, or the players circle that are important, and certainly our four games this year against Minnesota are going to be important, but you can't look ahead.”

With Dartmouth showing glimmers of brilliance, it will be important the Badgers follow the advice of their experienced head coach.

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